The NCAA Match Has a Geography Downside and Ought to Transfer a Western Venue

The NCAA Choice Committee revealed their preliminary itemizing of 16 groups as the highest seeds for this 12 months’s event. There weren’t too many surprises, I obtained 15 of the 16 in my newest projections, and had most on the right seed line and no another than a seed line off. However one thing stands out to me once more, the geographical imbalance in faculty basketball versus how the venues are assigned. The NCAA moved to a mannequin the place they began sending groups to pods which may theoretically preserve prime groups nearer to their geographic base within the first two rounds. The upper seeds get desire on geography. However the NCAA assigns the eight first spherical venues largely on a rotation based mostly on areas. The West area, which may typically be seen as the massive space that features each the Pacific and Mountain Time Zones, all the time will get two internet hosting websites within the preliminary rounds. This belies the precise distribution of the place prime faculty groups are based mostly. It has an actual, sensible impact that extra prime groups (and groups normally) journey additional. The western venues are sometimes crammed, by the #four seeds who occur to get the worst draw. This has the extra draw back, because the committee tries to regulate the bracket to account for the groups taking part in in Dayton, that the ultimate at-larges, which may typically be 12th seeds, are restricted in the place they'll journey as a result of half the potential venues  that embody the four/5/12/13 seeds are out West. Final 12 months, the San Diego venue had one group from 683 miles away (New Mexico State) and in any other case featured two groups every from West Virginia and South Carolina, and groups from Alabama, Kansas, and Kentucky. The typical distance of the eight groups from San Diego final 12 months was 1,928 miles. Check out this 12 months’s 16 groups. You've got solely two groups from what the Pacific and Mountain time zones (Gonzaga and Nevada). That’s in step with the final decade, the place 2.1 groups from these time zones have been prime four seeds per 12 months, and we've had just one season the place 4 of them had been from the West. In the meantime, seven groups are from Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, and Kentucky, faculties all a brief distance from areas like Indianapolis and cities in Ohio. When you glided by the present ordering of groups, you'd have the next because the seemingly locations: #1 Duke goes to Columbia, SC #2 Tennessee goes to Columbia, SC #three Virginia goes to Columbus, OH (thus taking a spot from all these Midwestern groups) #four Gonzaga goes to Salt Lake Metropolis, UT #5 Kentucky additionally goes to Columbus, OH In consequence, #6 Michigan has to go to Des Moines, IA #7 North Carolina goes to Jacksonville, FL #eight Michigan State additionally goes to Des Moines, IA #9 Purdue, then, has to go to Tulsa, OK #10 Kansas additionally goes to Tulsa, OK #11 Houston, who would like Tulsa, now has to go to Jacksonville #12 Marquette would go to Hartford, CT #13 Iowa State would go to Salt Lake Metropolis, UT #14 Nevada goes to San Jose, CA #15 Louisville goes to Hartford, CT #16 Wisconsin goes to San Jose CA If one of many western opening week websites was as a substitute within the Midwest/Nice Lakes area, you'd go from having 7 of the top-seeded groups inside 500 miles of their house to having 11 taking part in that shut. If, say the additional venue was in Lexington as a substitute of Salt Lake, then a number of of the Midwest groups are nearer, which has a domino impact of additionally maintaining groups like Purdue, Houston, and Marquette nearer to house, and making it so not one of the #four seeds (in addition to Nevada) are making an extended journey out West. During the last decade, twice as many groups from Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio have been a prime four seed within the NCAA event as these within the Pacific and Mountain time zones mixed, but twice as many first spherical venues are within the West. I applaud the NCAA for the change within the system, the place you now not need to go play video games within the Midwest within the first week simply since you had been seeded within the Midwest Regional. I do assume the final location of the 4 Regionals is ok. But when the NCAA needs to extend attendance and the friendliness for followers of the highest groups in attending to event video games, they'd transfer towards offering just one far West venue within the opening spherical, and add one other within the Midwest. The areas ought to extra precisely replicate the fact of how groups are distributed. Extra groups can be inside an affordable journey distance in the event that they altered that method.